Indonesia celebrates the 20th anniversary of the World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia program
To commemorate the Southeast Asia program’s 20th anniversary, the headquarters in Indonesia shared stories and experience between staff and partners and launched three important books, says Robert Finlayson
This year, 2013, the World Agroforestry Centre’s Southeast Asia Program (and the Indonesia and Philippine programs) celebrates 20 years of agroforestry research for development. The anniversary was marked by events held, in Indonesia, at the Manggala Wanabakti complex of the Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta and, in the Philippines, at the Traders Hotel Manila, Pasay City (read the full story of the Philippine event).
The event in Jakarta on 11 November was opened by the Centre’s Southeast Asia regional coordinator, Ujjwal Pradhan, who welcomed representatives of the European Union; Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada (DFATD); PT Austraining Nusantara; Australian Volunteers International; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Forestry; Ford Foundation; and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and other distinguished guests.
Dr Pradhan spoke of the recent achievements of the Indonesia program, such as the establishment of a memorandum of understanding to support the new agroforestry research centre (Balai Penelitian Teknologi Agroforestry/BPTA) based in Ciamis, West Java; the inauguration of a regional early-career scientists program; and the commencement of three important projects to help the Government of Indonesia reach its emissions-reduction target. The projects are led by Sonya Dewi, who has also just been appointed the first coordinator of the Centre’s Indonesia country program.
Dr Pradhan also noted the support the Centre provided to Indonesia’s first national agroforestry seminar, held in Malang, East Java, in May. The seminar was held to share research results that would give further encouragement to the Government to adopt more policies that supported the development of agroforestry and to celebrate the anniversaries of the institutions that collaborated to host the seminar together with the Centre: Agroforestry Technology Research Institute of the Forestry Research and Development Agency of the Ministry of Forestry (BPTA and FORDA); Agriculture Faculty of Brawijaya University; and the Indonesian Agroforestry Society. Around 300 people participated, including researchers, development practitioners, educators, professors, students, NGO activists and representatives of various government agencies from central and regional levels.
The next speaker at the 20th anniversary event was Bambang Hartono MF, director of research and development for enhancement of forest productivity, on behalf of the Minister of Forestry. Dr Hartono emphasised that while agroforestry has proven itself compatible with the region, now the challenge in Indonesia is how to apply agroforestry technologies to create the right balance between forests and farmlands. A variety of non-technical aspects, such as policy development, institutional strengthening and business involvement and development need to be integrated with the biophysical progress to date.
Dennis Garrity, the founding regional coordinator of the Southeast Asia, Philippine and Indonesia programs reminisced by video from his home in Nairobi, Kenya. He reminded the audience that the early research of the Southeast Asia program focused on alternatives to slash-and-burn cultivation and smallholders working on forest margins. The organization of the same name, Alternatives to Slash and Burn (later to become the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins) provided the platform for much of the research, which took place largely in Sulawesi and Kalimantan. Land tenure and improved management were examined as ways to stop burning and reduce the area of degraded land infested with Imperata grass. Oil palm in current times raises similar issues, he observed.
Highlights of the anniversary event in Jakarta
He also reminded the audience that Indonesia’s peatlands emit more carbon dioxide than any other land-use system and given that the Government is serious about reducing its emissions then the huge risk this type of land presents should be firmly addressed. Indeed, Imperata grasslands now present themselves as an opportunity because they are areas of low carbon storage that could be converted to oil palm and other types of plantation crops and, in so doing, increase the amount of carbon per hectare. Dr Garrity also noted the importance of the development of negotiation-support methods that the Centre had worked on for more than ten years and were launching later in the day in book form and declared that we were now seeing an ‘agroforestry transition’, similar to ‘forest transition’, that involved the establishment of serious amounts of tree cover after decades of deforestation in China, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. He predicted that climate change will see more people turning to agroforestry for climate-smart production systems.
A. Ngaloken Gintings, a senior researcher working with the Forest Research Institute at the time of the Centre’s founding in Indonesia, recalled his role as liaison with the Asia Pacific Agroforestry Network, initiating the first modern scientific agroforestry developments in the nation. In 1992, he accompanied a team from the Centre’s Nairobi headquarters, along with Dr Soetjipto Partoharjono of the Food Crop Research Institute and Dr Soleh Sukmana of the Soil Research Institute, on a field trip to Riam Kanan, South Kalimantan, to observe shifting cultivation practices; South Sumatra to examine rubber agroforests; and West Sumatra to discuss with farmers their agricultural patterns in the highlands. The team concluded that Indonesia was a good place for agroforestry research because there was a large amount of agroforestry systems of different types already developed in the field, which lead to the establishment of the Centre’s program and subsequent research in the areas visited by the team.
Wahjudi Wardojo and Iman Santoso, former and current director generals of FORDA spoke of the importance of the Centre’s support for research, noting in particular the effort at the Thirteenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali in which Centre staff provided support with carbon accounting and benefit sharing. Dr Santoso emphasised that the Centre taught the importance of including local people in negotiations around provision of environmental services.
Harry Budi of BPTA, Pungki Widiaryanto of the National Planning and Development Agency (Badan Perencanaan dan Pembangunan Nasional/Bappenas) and Rizaldi Boer of the Institut Pertanian Bogor all stressed the high value their organizations placed on their partnerships with the Centre. Dr Budi particularly praised the Centre’s strengths in building the capacity of BPTA staff, Dr Widiaryanto praised the Centre for providing agroforestry as a solution for conflicts between agriculture and forestry and for the development of the Land-use Planning for Low-emissions Development Strategies (LUWES) method that Bappenas has rolled out to all levels of government throughout the nation. And Dr Boer complimented the Centre on its strong track record in maintaining research partnerships and advising on research directions, particularly noting the support of Meine van Noordwijk, the Centre’s chief science adviser.
A panel of representatives from development agencies was next to speak. Hari Basuki of DFATD (formerly the Canadian International Development Agency/CIDA) worked with the Centre on Canadian-funded projects in Aceh after the tsunami and now in Sulawesi. He praised the strong partnership developed with the Centre over the years, particularly through the leadership of James M. Roshetko, and the excellent development outcomes that both projects had, and were, achieving. Mirah Nuryanti of ACIAR said her organization was working with the Centre in Nepal, Viet Nam and Indonesia because ACIAR recognised that agroforestry was a sustainable solution for many problems facing smallholders in those countries. Ria Noviari Butar Butar of the European Union said that the Centre was her favourite implementing partner because of the unique solutions found for complex problems, its focus on building capacity, its ability in creating tools and devising guidelines that were very useful for development agencies. Steve Rhee of the Ford Foundation also praised the Centre for the long relationship and successful support provided since 1994.
Sonya Dewi, the new, and first, Indonesia country coordinator was introduced next. She gave a short presentation, using a growing tree as a metaphor to highlight the growth and extent of the Centre’s research interests in Indonesia from 1993 to the present and beyond.
During question time, Efransyah, the executive director of WWF, stated that the Centre was among the pioneers at putting people at the centre of things: ‘Not landscapes or trees or forests or agriculture but people’, he said. He noted that the Centre’s scientists’ second strength was that they were very modest and not arrogant.
Sagita of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network secretariat added that for her regional organization, Indonesia was the lead country for expanding best practices for sustaining environments and livelihoods through showing how agroforestry works from the uplands to the coast, between fisheries and livestock, forestry and agriculture, and praised the strong partnership that the Centre had developed with ASFN and the Government of Indonesia.
The event concluded with the launches of three books: Twenty years of working towards a sustainable Southeast Asia 1993–2013: highlights; Negotiation-support toolkit for learning landscapes; and the English-language version of the Indonesian National Strategy for Agroforestry Research 2012–2030.
The work of the World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia and Indonesia programs is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry